Despite increasing interest in the occurrence of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the environment, there has been only limited effort expended to identify principal source input reservoirs and pathways into the environment. Taking a single congener BDE-47, an important component of the penta commercial product, we have estimated principal contemporary reservoirs and emissions in two regions with very different historical use patterns. In North America, production and use of the penta-product has been rising steadily for the last 20 years, whilst in the UK, use has been restricted over the last 10 years, and most recently, there has been an EU ban on use. Mass balance models have been applied using our contemporary emission estimates to predict environmental levels. Results highlight that contemporary emissions to air can account for contemporary air concentrations but cannot account for measured concentrations in principal reservoirs such as soils and sediments. Future efforts are needed to improve our knowledge of the stocks of PBDEs in use, and emission factors from those stocks, to better understand/predict past and likely future trends.